One Skill to Rule Them All

When it comes to time management, there is one skill that rules them all.

Pre-week planning.

Use the below pre-week planning review (including 4 pitfalls to avoid) to restart, revamp, or simply improve your pre-week planning.

Why Pre-Week Planning

Fully 68% of people, even with online calendars and to do lists, say that time management is their #1 challenge. It manifests as burnout, task overload, work-life imbalance, and excessive stress. It’s not uncommon for them to feel like a firefighter running around endlessly putting out fires. Can you relate?

That’s why pre-week planning is the one skill to rule them all — it fundamentally addresses the root causes of task overload, burnout, overstressing, and work-life imbalance. Studies show that when people consistently pre-week plan they achieve 30-50% more each week, which equates to 500 or more additional key priorities accomplished each year. And, all those who pre-week plan say they have better health, relationships, and less stress (work-life balance).

How To Pre-Week Plan

Before your week begins, have a scheduled time (e.g., Friday afternoons, Sunday afternoons, early Monday morning, whatever is best for you) to pre-week plan. Follow these four steps:

1. Review your personal vision and goals. These are the compass for your priorities and key actions. These help you to know what matters most, and what doesn’t.
2. List your life roles across the top of your pre-week planning matrix in either your paper or digital planner:

3. Write in 1-5 key priorities, tasks, or action items for each role. Ideally these should align with your goals and personal vision.

4. Schedule your priorities into your calendar. The idea here is that you’re scheduling your priorities first — for both work and life.

4 Pitfalls to Avoid & Tips to Correct Them

  • Avoid Perfectionism: Some people get discouraged when they don’t accomplish 100% of the priorities they schedule. But nobody does. It’s not expected. Life happens. The power of pre-week planning is in the process, not the completion rate. So, focus on the process. Whether you complete 30% or 90% of scheduled priorities, you’re doing what matters most and aligning your life towards your vision.
  • Consistency: Pre-week planning is simple to understand. That doesn’t always mean it’s easy to start as a new habit, and it can be easy to miss. So, do two things. First, reinforce the habit of pre-week planning with phone reminders, accountability partners, and scheduled times to pre-week plan. Second, when you miss a week, don’t sweat it, or stop, just jump back into as soon as you can and keep going.
  • Flexibility and Scheduling Every Priority: Much of our time is spent on the unplanned. This can be frustrating if you don’t plan for the unplanned. So, build flexibility into your schedule and be adaptable. The degree of flexibility you need depends on you, your job, your lifestyle, and much more. So, make modifications until you find the right balance. And, don’t feel that you need to schedule every pre-week planning item into your schedule if it doesn’t fit. Some items need hard times (e.g., meetings, dates, events), and some may not (going for a run). So, be adaptable, and be flexible.
  • Pre-Week Planning Differs from To-Do Lists. Your pre-week planning matrix is not your daily “to-do” list, and shouldn’t be used as one. Your pre-week planning matrix lists your key priorities (what matters most), by role, for the week. To-do lists come in many shapes and forms. They are generally kept daily and have very granular daily tasks.  Pre-week planning priorities can flow into a “to-do” list as key priorities, and a person can use both to effectively manage their time.

Wrapping Up

Pre-week planning is the key skill — the one that rules them all — for work-life balance, happy relationships, prioritizing health, and becoming a top performer professionally. Commit to applying this skill weekly, and it will transform your life for the better.

“Just as pre-flight planning is critical for a pilot, pre-week planning is just as essential when people want to take control of their lives and do what matters most.” – Rob Shallenberger

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